Most of the arguments have been based on syntactical properties, but we coincidentally came across a construction that shows another way in which gerunds are unlike nouns. Where one writer had suggested that it would be nice to come to some consensus, I replied "not at the cost of internal inconsistency". The other writer said, "don't you mean at the cost of internal consistency?"
A google search shows that the normal way to express what I wanted to say would indeed have been "not at the cost of internal consistency." In other words where of is followed by a noun, the normal expression is "not at the cost of (good thing)."
- Our readers enjoy interesting words, but not at the cost of readability.
- Individual autonomy is attained but not at the cost of relatedness with close others
- Defence deals not at the cost of transparency
- 6200 ftServer offers solid fault-tolerance--but not at the cost of performance
- Most Pittsburghers want a more civil society, but not at the cost of fairness.
- Water-sharing pact not at the cost of fraternal ties
- We wanted to grow, but not at the cost of sacrificing quality.
- Healthcare systems need policies to keep costs down so that we can afford our insurance premiums, but not at the cost of losing our basic rights.
- the respondents said they wanted power -- but not at the cost of losing respect
- benefits of xenotransplantation realized, but not at the cost of compromising public welfare.
- to develop public programmes that would address the interests of their varied audiences, but not at the cost of ignoring their primary audience.